Granite Falls trims 2001 tax hike to 4%

By KATHY KORENGEL

Herald Writer

GRANITE FALLS — City council members decided to give residents a break in property taxes next year.

The city council has voted to increase next year’s property tax levy by 4 percent, rather than the 6 percent initially proposed.

City council members "felt we needed to take into consideration people in the community on fixed incomes," Mayor Rella Morris said.

"An extra $20 (in taxes) would be too much" for them, Morris said. "And PUD (utility) bills are going to go up, too."

The approved increase is still more than the 2 percent cap for property tax levy increases mandated by Initiative 722, which voters passed in November. But because of court challenges to the initiative, the Snohomish County assessor’s office has said it won’t enforce the 2 percent cap anyway.

The city council debated 2 percent and 6 percent increases. A 2 percent increase would have added about $214,583 to city coffers, city clerk Gerry James said. A 6 percent hike would have amounted to about $220,409.

"Four percent is about halfway between," James said.

Morris said the city will make up for the reduced amount by "moving things within certain funds."

The proposed 2001 budget will be voted on at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The preliminary budget, which adds up to almost $5 million, includes funds for a new part-time animal control officer and a new, even more part-time code enforcement officer.

Funding for the code enforcement officer "allows us to bring someone in if there’s a problem we really need to take a look at," Morris said. It would be "just an emergency thing."

Morris said the animal control position would probably be half-time, although that still needs to be worked out with the city employees’ union.

In other action, the city council discussed applicants for the council seat recently vacated by Cherie Tregoning. She resigned because of increased hours at her job, which left her less time for council matters.

The city received letters of interest from Paul Bilbruck Sr., Bonnie Cosentino, Richard Cottage and Patricia Samsel. Council members will choose an applicant to fill the position until it comes up for election in November 2001.

The council invited all the applicants for interviews prior to its Jan. 10 meeting. The public is invited to attend the applicant interviews.

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